Create Your Own Japanese Zen Garden

Making your backyard space a small oasis is easier than you think!

If you are looking for a unique yet low maintenance garden idea, consider a Japanese Zen garden.  This is not to be confused with a traditional Japanese garden.  Japanese gardens are beautiful, however they are very complex and difficult to create in a typical backyard space. Japanese gardens have certain characteristics that include water such as pond features, bridges and large rock lanterns.

Therefore if you are looking for a Japanese-style garden but do not have the space for a traditional one, a Japanese Zen garden is the perfect option for you. Here you will gain some fundamental tips and ideas to help you plan your very own Japanese Zen garden.

Woman sitting on temple podium and enjoying meditating in Zen garden in between Chion-ji Temple buildings walls. It is Japanese type rock garden presenting miniature landscape. It is carefully arranged meditation place with rocks, water, or water features, sand, moss, trees and bushes.

A Little History Behind the Japanese Zen Garden 

The Japanese Zen garden, also known as a Japanese rock garden, was originally created by Buddhist monks in the sixth century to aid in meditation and relaxation.  The main purpose of a Japanese garden is to bring serenity and nature into our crowded lives. These gardens are well-known for their base, which consists of either rocks, gravel, sand or a combination of the three.

If your space is limited, the Japanese Zen garden may be perfect for you since it’s designed to accommodate small to mid-size backyard spaces. This type of garden is designed to be relaxing, quiet and easy to maintain.

What Are the Benefits of a Japanese Zen Garden Versus a Traditional Garden?

The biggest benefit associated with a Japanese Zen garden is that the garden is clean and uncluttered. This makes it easy to trim your trees or clean your landscaping, as you do not have multiple plants bunched together or overlapping. This type of garden is also growing in popularity in the United States, as it requires little water. Grass and flowering plants use a lot of water.

They can also feature small, well-landscaped plants. This creates a clean outdoor space that is not cluttered or overgrown, which is thought to help you relax and meditate.

If you are looking to create a landscaping that conserves water, a sand, gravel or rock-based garden, such as a Zen garden, is perfect.

Japanese zen garden with stoneWhat Plants Should You Consider Placing in a Japanese Zen Garden?

If you are creating your own Japanese Zen garden, you may find yourself wondering what plants for Japanese Zen garden would be appropriate to plant.  The interesting thing about  Zen gardens is that they do not typically have a lot of plants or vegetation. However, if you are looking to incorporate a little bit of color and green into your Zen space, there are a few ways you can do so.

Zen gardens often have patches of small vegetation, such as moss or lichen. This greenery may cover rocks or may have large rock boulders placed on top of them. For larger plants, consider evergreen or woodland varieties of shrubs or even large, neatly pruned evergreen shrubs for statement pieces.

If you are just looking for a touch of green, bamboo plants are also considered ‘good luck’ plants.  They thrive very well in most environments.

What Types of Rocks Should You Consider for a Japanese Zen Garden? 

Asian zen garden

Another question you may have as you create your Japanese Zen garden is what types of rocks  would work best for this space? Gravel is preferred to sand, as gravel stays in place when it is windy outside. However, both materials can be used. White sand is often used to represent the ocean, while black gravel represents rivers and lakes.

Larger rock forms are used to represent different items, such as volcanic rocks to represent the sea, rugged mountain rocks to represent mountains and hills, and sedimentary rocks to represent rivers and seashores. You may want to research various types of rocks and their meanings to select the rocks that resonate with you in order to make your garden truly your Zen space.

What Other Features Could You Add to Make the Space Perfect? 

If you would like to add a water feature to your Zen garden, there are so many beautiful and low-maintenance options.  The water element would definitely contribute to the peaceful atmosphere which is the main purpose of a Japanese Zen garden.

Get started on your garden today and begin to enjoy the serenity that this type of outdoor landscaping has to offer. If you would like some other design ideas for your home, check out our guide on fiddle leaf fig trees.





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